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If the English language were a person, it would be this guy.

Photo by Jessica/Flickr.


A sweating, hulking lumberjack wielding an enormous saw, which is, stereotypically, the very essence of all that is manly.

Of course, women can be lumberjacks, too. But the English language — at least, the way it was taught to many of us — doesn't have room for that kind of nuance.

Don't believe me? Here's a picture of a couple of "policemen":

Photo by Jay Weenig/Flickr.

And here's one of a hardworking "fireman":

Photo by William Franklin/Flickr.

Matter of fact, what comes to mind when you think about a "freshman" in college? Or things that are "man-made?" What do you picture when you think about the history of "mankind"?

Starting to see a trend here?

For years, we've been taught that male-centric language is OK. The folks over at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill decided to teach their students differently.

Photo by William Yeung/Flickr.

I know for a fact that I'm guilty of this. Though I can't pinpoint exactly when, somewhere along the line I started assuming readers would know what I meant when I wrote "policeman." That they'd know I was referring to everyone on the planet when I said "mankind." That "Hey, guys!" was a perfectly acceptable substitute for "Hey, everyone!"

The truth is that defaulting to the male version of a word or phrase is lazy and uncool.

That's why UNC Chapel Hill is challenging its students to think more carefully about gender in their writing.

In a new addition to the school's writing guide, students can find guidelines that will help them "make decisions about using gendered language" in their writing.

According to the guide, "Most readers no longer understand the word 'man' to be synonymous with 'person,' so clear communication requires writers to be more precise."

It then goes on to give lots of helpful tips for students to use in their writing. They're not issuing mandates; they're providing guidelines.

For starters, there's a nifty chart that gives students gender-neutral alternatives to certain problematic words. "Mailman," for example, becomes "mail carrier." "Freshman" becomes "first-year student."

The guide also discusses topics like when and when not to invoke gender at all in academic writing and how to make sure the content of your writing is fair. (Referring to William Shakespeare as "Shakespeare," and Jane Austen as "Jane"? It happens, and it's pretty sexist.)

And, possibly, my personal favorite recommendation is the use of "they" as a singular pronoun, which is long, long overdue and, according to the guide, is a good alternative because "using 'she or he' or similar constructions can also inadvertently exclude people who do not refer to themselves using either pronoun." (Relax, grammar enthusiasts; the world isn't going to implode.)

Some are up in arms about these new guidelines, though, declaring them a "War on Words," and the work of "the P.C. Police."

Image from "Fox and Friends Weekend."

And this isn't the first time a campus initiative like this has gotten significant blowback.

Earlier this year, the University of Tennessee Knoxville had a post on its website encouraging students and teachers to ask each other which pronouns they preferred and to consider using gender-neutral pronouns like "ze" or "xe." After huge amounts of criticism, in which the policy was referred to as "liberal propaganda," the post came down a few weeks later.

UNC Chapel Hill already looks like it's headed for the same kind of opposition.

But really, when you boil it down, UNC isn't asking much. It's simply asking students to say what they mean and to stop assuming people like police officers and congressional representatives are men.

If you ask me, that's not propaganda, it's an important lesson for our next generation of leaders.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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